Tent spiders

Cyrtophora moluccensis, Cyrtophora hirta, Cyrtophora exanthematica, family Araneidae

Female Dome web spider (Cyrtophora moluccensis) Female Dome web spider (Cyrtophora moluccensis).

Identification

The Dome Tent spider, (Cyrtophora moluccensis) is the largest spanning the width of a man's hand. The long body is strongly variable in colour with a broad black to rusty red stripe for most of the back and bright yellow and white spots along the edges.

The Russian Tent spider (Cyrtophora hirta) is a rarely seen small pale spider with an oval body usually hiding in the white cap at the top of the tent-like web. 

Scoop web spiders (Cyrtophora exanthematica) have a brown long triangular body that is difficult to find among the cluster of dead leaves.

Distribution

The Scoop and Dome web spiders are found from Coffs Harbour northward to Cape York. Russian tent spiders seem quite common for much of the east coast.

Web

Tent spiders have modified the circular web into a dome, spiked tent or broad scoop. The web is the most diagnostic feature of the species.

The Dome Tent spider builds a large dome-shaped web from 30-60cm across with a long tangle of web above the dome and a small tangle below. The female hunts from the top of the dome where she lays her eggs in a long bean-like and attempts to fend off the large flesh flies (Sarcophagidae) that parasitise them. From about Rockhampton northward, these spiders form massive colonies as big as houses.

Dome web spider, Araneidae, Cyrtophora moluccensis, web

Small (up to 20cm diameter) webs of the Russian Tent spider are often seen over marshland where they reflect the early morning and late afternoon sun. The web has a strongly conical tip and the tangle web around it is less obvious.

Russian Tent spider, Araneidae, Cyrtophora hirta, web

The Scoop web spider builds long (20-40cm) scoop-shaped webs along branches. The spider hunts under the scoop and hides at one end.

Scoop web spider, Araneidae, Cyrtophora exanthematica, spider in web

Bite

No bites have been confirmed from any species.

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